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The Backward Incidence of Pollution Regulation on Workers’ Wages: Empirical Evidence From Shanghai

By Vinod Mishra and Russell Smyth

Abstract

In this study we examine the extent to which firms pass back the cost of pollution regulation to workers in the form of lower wages using a unique matched employer-employee dataset for Shanghai. The benefits and costs of pollution regulation in China are important topics to study as China comes under increasing pressure to move from a single-minded focus on energy-driven economic growth to a more balanced approach to economic growth. The benefits of such a shift, particularly in terms of health, are relatively well-studied, but the costs are less so. The hip-pocket effect of pollution regulation on workers’ wages is particularly important given that it is likely to influence public support for a more balanced approach. Our main finding is that the reduction in average wages attributable to firms taking measures to control for pollution is between 13.8% and 18.8%, all things being equal.Wages, Pollution abatement, China

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